Fishery Management Report
Background and the Plan
Over the last few years it has become apparent that we had a serious siltation problem in Cart Pond. The source of the silt was thought to be two-fold.
- Breakup of the central island.
- Material being brought into the pond via surface water, although most of the surface water enters the pond via Stemps, Cart is to a large extent fed from Stemps and the suspended material tends to drop out in Cart.
A few years ago we tried to reduce the breakup of the island by surrounding with willow hurdles hoping these would help. This proved to be a somewhat temporary solution which although it slowed the process down the island was still breaking up. During the summer of 2022 this really came to a head when because of very low rainfall and a hot summer water levels dropped to around 10 inches in places
Earlier we had spoken to various contractors and the EA seeking solutions and in the end we decided that we would have to go ahead with the most radical solution.
Very briefly the plan is to completely drain the lake by pumping the water into Stemps, obviously removing the fish, which we would also transfer to Stemps. The silt could then be dug out of the lake and this would be deposited in a silt lagoon that would be dug behind the western end of Cart Pond. A permeable membrane made from a material called Nicospan would be installed around the island and this could then be backfilled to create a new stable island. Existing vegetation on what was left of the previous island (in particular trees) would be removed and the island would be replanted / seeded with soil binding plants to help maintain the structure. The pond would then be refilled and restocked.
Sounds simple! But it is a massive amount of work.
In order to keep costs down as much as possible there was a fair amount of work that we could tackle ourselves before the contractors moved in. We are very lucky to have John Oxford in the club who came forwards and offered his assistance with his mini digger. With his machine and plenty of volunteer hours we managed to;
- Open up a back entrance way to the ponds – behind peg 13 on Stemps. This would allow the contractors to get their machinery in without us having to significantly widen the gate and bridge at the normal foot entrance.
- Create an entrance for machinery between the two ponds – behind peg 9 on Stemps
- Open up an area in the woods to the west of Cart Pond which will be used for the silt lagoon
- Create a second machinery entrance to Cart Pond behind peg 19 to allow easy access between the pond and silt lagoon
- Build a dam between the two ponds to hold the water in Stemps back.
Day 1 November 2nd 2022
The day started with a site walkover with the contractors. They were very pleased and impressed with the amount of work that we had been able to do ourselves. We then had to wait until the machinery arrived. The first piece of equipment was a wheeled 6 tonne dumper truck which will be used to move materials around the site. The main digger arrived about an hour later. These were driven across to the ponds and round through the new entrance taking great care to minimise any damage to the fields either side of the footpath and also the set aside land that surrounds the pond. Although the ground was quite wet there was little evidence that these big machines had been across the land.
This took us up until lunchtime. The afternoon would be spent starting to create a bund wall round the silt lagoon.
Day 3 November 4th 2022
Despite atrocious weather over the last couple of days our contractors have soldiered on and the silt lagoon area is 95% complete.
Very wet weather means the site is very muddy and the result of this rain has meant that both lakes are nearly full. Over the last few days the water levels have gone up by quite a few inches which for Cart is impressive as no water from Stemps is coming through. Sadly this heavy rain is a month too early but shows promise for the future refill. Unfortunately this has changed our plan to pump all the water from Cart into Stemps as Stemps is almost full. We will be able to pump some water across to top Stemps right up but the rest of the water will be pumped into the ditch that runs from behind peg 27 on Cart pond. This is where the natural overflow from the pond has always been but over the summer we inserted bungs into the pipes to slow the loss of water from Cart.
Also today we took delivery of the Nicospan membrane and posts which will be used to create the new island outline.
Our contractors will be taking the weekend off and on Monday they will put the finishing touches to the silt lagoon and we hope to start pumping water out in the afternoon.
Day 6 November 7th 2022
After a weekend of very heavy rain we arrived to find both ponds completely full. Stemps was so full that the platform on peg 13 was actually under water! The first task was to reinforce and raise the dam between the two pond to the maximum we could go without flooding the banks of Stemps. Over the weekend we had also released the bungs on the outlet pipes from Cart to the stream and these were running well and just about keeping pace with the water running into the pond.
We now know that if there is a drought threatened that if we commission any landwork on our venues it is bound to rain and rain heavily. Last year you might recall that our contractors got half way through laying the path at Hurston when the deluge came!
We were now not going to be able to pumps any water from Cart to Stemps and indeed it looked as if we would need to pumps some water from Stemps to stop it overflowing and this would have to be pumped directly into the ditch behind Peg 27. In order to do this we would need an extra 60 metres of wide bore hose. Unfortunately the pump which was supposed to arrive during the morning did not get onto site until around 3pm which left us very little time to pump today, however we did manage to drop the level in Stemps by about 4 inches in that time.
Whilst this was all going on the contractors were also finishing off the construction of the silt lagoon. The heavy rain had also had an effect here and as you can see below the area was beginning to resemble a new pond!!!
Hopefully that is the last of the rain but all the rain we have had has put us back a couple of days so it looks as if we will be lowering the level in Cart for the next couple of days ready to net out the fish on Thursday and hopefully complete the final pump out on Friday.
Day 8 November 9th 2022
We had been pumping all the previous day and seemed to be making little progress with water still pouring into the ponds from what was officially the wettest start to November on record. To try to get on top of this the decision was taken to run the pump over night.
Days 9 & 10 November 10th and 11th 2022
Coming back onto site this morning, the overnight pump had really taken effect and the level in Cart had dropped considerably to the degree that we could now start netting out the remaining fish. We had dug a ‘sump’ in front of peg 22 and were pumping from here, the movement of the water was also encouraging the fish to move into this area so this is where we concentrated our netting efforts. We switched the pump over to Stemps as the level there was still high and water was also breaching the dam we had built between the ponds lowering the level in Stemps should help relieve the pressure. We also decide to reinforce and heighten the dam. While this was going on we were netting plenty of fish out of Cart and transferring them to Stemps. The low water level had also revealed some enormous swan mussels and these were collected and put into Stemps. While doing this both the Club Secretary and our Project Manager managed to get completely bogged down in the mud, the only way for them to get out was for them to be pulled out of their waders and once free the waders were dug out! Thankfully these were the only two people with cameras so thankfully no pictures of their ignominy. Many thanks to bailiffs Ray and Les who when they had recovered from laughing ably assisted.
Les did sterling work cutting channels through the silt to allow the fish to get to the sump and netting area. By mid afternoon we had got all the fish out that we could and decided to call it a day. With a small amount of water still running into the pond we hoped that this would allow the majority of the remaining fish to make it to the sump over night and netting could resume.
Further netting on Friday saw the last of the fish that we could get at transferred to Stemps, unfortunately we did lose a few fish in the process but we knew this would be inevitable. Among the fish that we got out were some enormous Eels and we did spot another couple but they very quickly buried themselves into the silt. We are not too worried about them as if they are lifted out of the pond with the silt they will soon find their way back to the water. While we were working in the pond our contractors were building their ramp down into the pond so they could get their machinery in to start the de-silting. As they lifted the first few loads of silt out they found that the area was very quickly filling with water so they will be cutting a channel round to the sump area to help the water drain off.
So after a poor start with the prospect that we were going to end the week about five days behind on the project we have managed to claw back three of those day with a lot of hard work all round.
Days 11 & 12 November 12th & 13th 2022
The weekend and although we did not have any rain there was still plenty of water entering Stemps so two of the bailiffs Les P and Les R continued to run the pump to keep water levels down. They were able to net and move a few more fish into Stemps. To prepare for rebuilding the platforms round the pond they started measuring up and preparing a material list.
Day 13 November 14th 2022
The level in Cart had risen again and with that quite a few more fish had appeared, they had been obviously hiding away somewhere but moved into the deeper water of the sump area. These were netted out and among them were some very big Eels the largest of which was estimated at 4lb! New plant arrived on site including a tracked dumper which can easily move round the pond compared to the wheeled dumper that they started with.
Days 14 & 15 November 15th & 16th 2022
What a surprise – more rain, but this is not deterring our contractors and silt removal is now going full bore. Another eight large Eels up to 3lb are extracted from the silt and transferred into Stemps. Because the silt has a very high water content the pump is transferred on occasion to remove water. Unfortunately due to the conditions, the plant driving round the ponds has now seriously churned up the paths and bank and although when they finish this will be regraded it will take quite a time for the ground to recover.
Having now seen the depth of silt and the original pond base we estimate that when finished we should have a water depth across most of the pond of between three and four feet. We have also identified a couple of deeper areas where the depth could go to five feet Quite a difference from what we had over this summer and with a greater volume of water it should be much more resilient when it comes to hot summers and low rainfall.
Day 16 November 17th 2022
Heavy rain the preceding day and particularly overnight took us back to where we had started in terms of water levels. We arrived to find that both ponds had filled up completely with Stemps overflowing into Cart. This was going to mean that we would have to have a day of pumping out and no chance of getting the plant into the pond to remove any silt.
Day 17 November 18th 2022
Having run the pump continuously the day before we were only just keeping pace with the water entering the ponds and concluded that this was not just natural run off from the land there must be a much more significant point of entry. Our contractors started an investigation and cutting their way through masses of brambles to get at the ditches that surround the ponds they eventually found a pipe leading from one of the ditches into Stemps. This was obviously put there many years ago when Stemps was dug to supply water to the pond. As a temporary measure they have dug a diversion round this pipe to channel the water into the ditch further down to stop water entering the pond. This can be reinstated when the project has finished to hopefully give us a head start when it comes to refilling the Cart pond.
Day 20 November 21st 2022
We again faced heavy rain and had to pump Cart out for a couple of hours before the de-silting plant could move back into the pond. Thankfully the pump out time was much less have considerably slowed the inflow of water at the end of last week. Silt removal has almost been completed from the Stemps side of the pond and we should be able to move onto the back straight tomorrow. Our original estimate of 18 – 24inches of silt has proved low and we are finding up to 36inches in some areas.
Day 21 November 22nd 2022
Fine weather for a change! This meant which meant that we could get on with things from the start of the day without having to spend hours pumping out. We took out the fallen tree by peg 31 and started removing silt from round the back. Another couple of big Eels turned up in the silt and these were transferred to Stemps. It is interesting that although Cart obviously had a very healthy population of Eels they were rarely caught. I do remember that one of the previous bailiffs – Nelson Keet reckoned that he once had a 4 pounder and Phil Tubb weighed one of around 2lb at an early season match some years ago. It will be interesting to see if they make a more regular appearance from their new surroundings.
Day 31 2nd December 2022
With the weather not being against us progress has been good over the last week or so. Firstly another couple of days removing silt got us to the stage where we had taken out all that could be removed. There were some deeper areas of silt which means that once this was taken out there should be areas of the pond that will be even deeper than our original estimate. We also carefully removed the lily bed in the peg 27 area and these lilies will be re-established back in the pond when we have finished.
Once the silt removal was completed we could now turn our attention to the island. The chestnut posts that we had originally put in were found to be in good condition and were carefully removed for re-use. We have plans to use some of these on site, some at Hurston where they will be used to reinforce the river bank in places and some at Coultershaw where they will be used to make repairs to the fenced section at the riffles.
The island was then leveled and all the trees removed.
We then started installation of the Nicospan membrane. This is made with preformed post pockets, so once the posts are put in the membrane is dropped over them The posts have to be accurately placed and the depth they are knocked into carefully maintained to ensure this all fits together properly. There is also an inner membrane and a second set of posts on the inside with straining wires between the two sets of posts to ensure the whole structure is stable.
Day 34 6th December 2022
The end is finally in site, over the last couple of days construction of the new island was completed. We had a slight issue with a broken post in one area; but other posts were put in to strengthen the area. At the moment the Nicospan membrane is holding the whole weight of the island and the sooner we can get water back into the pond to equalise the pressure the better.
To this end we then tackled the next major operation which was to install a 12 inch pipe between the two ponds. This was installed at a higher level than the previous ditch between the ponds. The level was set so that the inlet to Cart is 50mm higher than the exit pipes by peg 27. The outlet from Stemps was set at 980mm on the depth marker that we have been using. All this was done using laser levelling and should mean that we are more able to keep the water levels in the ponds as long as we do not get exceptionally dry summers. However before the pipe was installed each end was meshed to deter transfer of all but the smallest fish from one pond to the other. The level the pipe has been set at should also mean that fish transfer is greatly reduced.
A new frame of RSJ’s and scaffold was then constructed over the pipe to carry a new bridge to allow access to the swims on the far side of the ditch. Because of the height of the pipe the bridge will be a few inches higher than the previous bridge the land on either side will have to be graded to gently slope up to and down from the bridge.
We have had comment from a few members that the previous bridge was too narrow for their trolleys / barrows so we have also taken the opportunity to widen the bridge and hopefully this will now accommodate the widest load.
While all this work on the actual pond has been going on our bailiffs have not been idle. They have done a large amount of clearing on undergrowth around the pond and have burnt a great deal of the rubbish they have accumulated. Rebuild of the platforms has also started. We have brought in new scaffold framing and wooden bearers to take the final platforms and construction has started.
Day 35 7th December 2022
With everything in place, the ditch that had been feeding Stemps was opened back up to start the process of filling Cart via Stemps. Of course the weather is not really playing ball and we have clear cloudless skies and sub zero temperatures so the water flow into Stemps is not great. Our contractors are starting their retreat from the site, repairing the ground as best they can as they go. Given the horrendous conditions while they were working the ground is going to take some time to recover and this is going to restrict our fishing access for quite a while. If we go back to when Stemps was originally dug it was left for getting on for eight months between the time the pond was completed to when it was first fished. We are certainly not leaving Cart for that long and hope to have the whole site back up and running by mid spring
20th December 2022
It has been a couple of weeks since our last update and although we have not been doing much work on the project over this time, a lot has happened. We eventually had a thaw and then plenty of rain not quite the volume of rain that we had at the beginning of November but more than enough to fill both Stemps & Cart right up and we have had some overflow. We will need to look to see if we can put some sort of control on the ditch that feeds Stemps. So we now have a full Stemps and a full Cart and we just need to let Cart settle down for a couple of weeks and then we can start to introduce some fish. We have more than achieved our original aim which was to get Cart back to its original level of around 3 feet deep. We reckon that the majority of the pond will be around the 4 foot mark with a number of deeper areas going to something close to 6 feet!
Below are a few pictures taken as Cart filled up.
11th February 2023
Over the last couple of weeks we have had to cope with some high water levels and work has been done to regulate the flow into Stemps which of course flows into Cart. Further work will be required in the summer but we are just about on top of it. Unfortunately the ground beyond the stream between the ponds is still soft but is drying out albeit slowly. Our bailiffs have started re-instating the platforms and those around the side and back from the old peg 23 round to 31 are almost complete. The pegs are going to be slightly rejigged as we have lost the old peg 17, this is where the bulk of the machinery entered and exited the pond and the ground is just not suitable for putting a platform on. However, we have gained a new peg round the back beyond the old peg 31 so the number of pegs on the pond will remain the same. Because of the new peg and the loss of peg 17, peg 16 will be moved a few metres to the left to even up the spaces a bit. We will be putting new maps up on site and the platforms will be numbered so you will know exactly what’s what and where.
We decided that we would only stock silver fish (non Carp species) into the new Cart Pond this reflects the original stocking policy when the pond was originally stocked around 30 years ago. From when we re-opened pegs 1-8 on Stemps at the beginning of the 2023 we have be encouraging anglers to transfer their silver fish catches back to Cart. We have also had a couple of matches on Stemps and again the silver fish have been transferred. It is only a rough estimate but we calculate that we have transferred somewhere around 1000 fish. We have also put in two tranches of ‘new’ fish.
The first lot of new fish were introduced to the pond in the middle of January and these consisted of good sized Roach and Rudd in the 8 – 10 oz range, around 100 Tench which were 8 – 10″ long, some smaller Roach and Rudd and a few Perch. At the same time we put some small Perch into Stemps
Yesterday we put another tranche of stock into Cart Pond. A number of good size breeding Bream some more good sized Roach and Rudd around the 8oz mark and a lot of smaller Roach and Rudd with a few small skimmer Bream among them.